It was a regular stroll through the office. That’s until I spotted the tackling dummies. Three clear plastic bags, packed tight with styrofoam balls, purposed for reading bean bags, were delivered that morning. They stood waist high and taunted me to take them on. Sure, I had classrooms to visit and a tight schedule to keep. But I wasn’t going to back down. So…I took the challenge.
My tackling form was ‘on point.’ Onlookers in the office saw why I graduated from my high school as the school’s all time leader in number of tackles #hookem. Following a moment of disbelief, they burst into laughter!
Getting up off the ground, I looked off into the distance and asserted “You didn’t know I had that, did you?” Straightening my tie and re-attaching the radio to my belt, I went metacognitive. “Wow, I really needed that.”
That’s truth. I really did.
We all need moments of levity, of play, of laughter in the workday. There is much research that points to the health and value of play in the workplace. It positively impacts our well being. It positively impacts our production. And it positively impacts the working climate.
As a leader, I am at my best when I can toggle between tasks and connection. I am at my best when I can both push our team and connect with our stakeholders. Our work is both urgent and serious. We are preparing students for a future of success. Too many of our students are already behind, not yet demonstrating grade level proficiencies in reading, writing, and mathematics. But this important and urgent work happens through people. People, and teams of people, work best when there is a foundation of human connection. Play and laughter might be the quickest routes to that end.
The question remains, how do we balance the urgent with needed play, in the context of schools, in our roles as school leaders.
I don’t have clear answers yet. But I do know that I need help breaking away from the urgent, to be spontaneous, and to play at work. Recess helps. Bean bags, posing as tackling dummies, help even more.